Thursday, 30 September 2010

The oldest building...

I am taking you on another trip beyond Saltaire... some 20 miles (32kms) SE as the crow flies, a bit further by road - to a little village called Ledsham. Saltaire, built in the 1850s, is historic - but in Ledsham stands the oldest church (and the oldest building) in our county of West Yorkshire. What is now All Saints Church was first built over 1200 years ago, in the early 8th century (900 AD).

The bottom part of the church tower, shown above, is part of an Anglo-Saxon porch. The doorway, the little window and surrounding wall are thought to be part of a large stone building that was an important centre of Christianity, perhaps a monastery. The church has been altered many times since but parts of the earliest building are still clearly visible. You can see from the picture below that the porch was built upwards
in Norman times (12th century). There is an area (around where the clock now is) of random stonework and then a Norman belfry with the distinctive rounded arch.

The carving around the door was done in Victorian times but may be a copy of what was there originally and the spire was added later too. The groundplan of the church was extended several times, with many of the tiny Anglo-Saxon windows replaced by larger ones in the 13th century and still larger ones (like the gothic pointed arch that you see on the right) in the 15th century. (If you make the picture larger, you can see the outline of an older, smaller window to the left of the large window.)

 
I got so excited exploring this place - such history.... The village of Ledsham itself is interesting too. It had a school and an orphanage endowed by Lady Elizabeth Hastings (1682 -1739), both of which have been converted into very desirable homes.  Ledsham is now a quiet little commuter village, not far from Leeds and the motorway network. (And it has a very nice gastro-pub, The Chequers Inn, which unusually is closed on Sundays because of an old tradition).

17 comments:

  1. How wonderful to still have such old buildings still standing. I wonder if buildings built today will still be standing in 1200 years time.

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  2. "Anglo-saxon", "norman", are words that attract my attention! What a rich historical place! Think of all what this stones saw during their long life..

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  3. Americans would die for these old buildings.

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  4. Amazing how they keep adding on and maintain the beauty of the structure.

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  5. Thank you for your reaction on my blog. I like history and travel and was this year in the UK and also in Yorkshire. Your blog seemed the perfect match for me to follow with intersting stories.

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  6. Wonderful! I just was visiting Honfleur in Normandy, courtesy Miss Yves' blog, and marveling at the antiquity of the buildings there. This church is beautiful -- I love seeing the signs of what went before as in the ghost window!

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  7. What a fascinating mix of traditions and styles; so much history encapsulated in one small structure!

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  8. Oh my what a wonderful place! Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  9. Amazing! In North America we are like rookies of architecture, lol.

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  10. wonderful presentation!! congratulations and thank's for share us!

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  11. WOW!! The history is so great (I love history)! Thanks for showing this.

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  12. It's always so hard for me to imagine how very old some of these places are. I have never been out of the U.S. (except for Canada) and I just can't comprehend being able to visit places like this that have such a vast history. It's really incredible. ~Lili

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  13. What a beautiful door! I would love to have a special door on our house...something that really welcomes guests...hmmmm. A winter project? How fun. I love the places you see!

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